Friday, April 28, 2006

Shopping Challenge: Make-up case

The cheapo cardboard case I've been using to store my make-up has officially died. I think it was originally from one of the lotion and soap gift baskets? After six months of living under the sink on the bathroom floor, who can blame it?

Time to invest in a new house for my cosmetics. What kind of case should I get?
  • Caboodle - When I was 13 I had a hot pink and green Caboodle case. Oh the shame! What could I have possibly even had in there? A Strawberry Shortcake lipgloss? Apparently the company is still around and selling at Target. You can pick up something more modern for $25, but the real question is: can you overcome the thought of buying a Caboodle again?
  • Sephora - For $90 you can buy something similar. For all the qualms I have about buying Caboodles, spending $90 on a make-up case seems worse.
  • Bobbi Brown - $225! It certainly is nice looking, but really you could do so much more with $200.
  • Crate and Barrel - I think the trouble is that I don't actually want one of these dorky cases to be on display in my bathroom. The solution is to switch gears. Two of these woven boxes would look nice stacked on the floor and one would hold my cosmetics reasonably well.
The moral of the story here is to "think out of the box." How very corny.

Urban Girl Almanac: Conference

How is it possible that this week was even busier than last week?! It's almost May?! Where does the time go?! I know I keep saying it, but I really hope next week is a bit more relaxed.

Here are a few things I learned during this extremely packed week:
  • Bicycle seats at the gym are terribly uncomfortable.
  • Headbands! A great hair accessory and my current obsession.
  • Fresh mandarin oranges are a lovely addition to a green salad.
  • Taking BART to Berkeley is very easy...taking the BART back to the city is a bit more challenging. Don't forget to switch trains at MacArthur.
  • Dan Rather is extremely well spoken.
  • Barry "The Maverick" Wishner is a member of the Commonwealth Club, too.
  • The MUNI underground closures after 10pm are driving me nuts.
  • The Moscone convention center is huge, but fortunately staffed by a kindly security guard who bears an uncanny resemblance to a walrus.
  • Did you know that the Moscone center is named after the gay-friendly San Francisco mayor who was assassinated by a former policeman in 1978?
  • The Faraday Effect rocks.
  • Trade show floors are my own seventh circle of hell. My hatred for them is only surpassed by my loathing of renaissance faires (it makes me gag just to type that extra "e"). A trade show for a renaissance faire would make my head explode.
  • Our kickball team is amazing. I am so glad that we can win despite my awful contributions.
  • Royal Motors may be expensive for repairs but they do wash your car and give you roses.
  • LinkedIn is an interesting site for networking and building business contacts.
  • Trader Joe's frozen tuna steaks are perfect for making fish and black bean tacos.
I'm off to San Luis Obispo for the weekend. If the weather stays nice, we'll rock climb and go to the beach. Should be a good opportunity to finally catch up on my sleep and get a little sun!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Shopping Challenge: Russian

My friends Mike and Thea just came back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand. During their travels they encountered this store proclaiming "Russian is so hot right now" and emailed it to me immediately. If the Aussies say so, it must be true!

Actually, it's not just down under. Others agree. has a great slideshow that illustrates some pieces of this trend that will be available in the UK in the fall.

How can you add a little Russian to your wardrobe now? Try a military-style blazer, wrap a dramatic scarf around your head a la Nicole Richie or go for a bold blue and red print. Don't overdo it. You could end up looking like a mail order bride or babushka if you're not careful.

The Faraday Effect

Oh man, I'm tired! Between the conference and everything else, I haven't slept hardly enough over the last few days. Last night we met up with some old co-workers at Bia on Haight for drinks. Around nine, Jill drove us downtown to the 330 Ritch St club where The Faraday Effect was making their big stage debut. Our friends Alex and Julia are in the band.

Now that Scissors for Lefty is on their way to Europe for their first big tour, we need to find a temporary replacement band. The Faraday Effect definitely rocks and puts on a great show. Rock on Alex and Julia!

New Section: Travel

Travel: First installment - Camping

Are you sensing a spring/summer theme? Let's get outdoors! Camping is a wonderful way to celebrate this fabulous weather. There are many ways to camp and everyone can get in on the fun. Tent camping, RV camping (Miss Em), etc. Here are some of my favorite California spots:
  • Refugio State Beach
  • Big Sur (so many great spots)
  • South Lake Tahoe
  • Pismo Beach
  • Yosemite
  • Sequoia National Park

If anyone has any other suggestions, please post! I am always up for finding new locations. And for the most important I have found great gear at:

Things I love: orchid pots

Hi everyone - this is my first blog as Miss Em's guest be kind. My favorite part of spring are flowers. Flowers, trees, grass...everything is in bloom. I ran across these orchid pots last night (available at Crackpots are designed with orchids in mind:
• Providing excellent aeration for roots
• An optimum growing environment
• Wide, with a solid base to prevent tipping
• Designed with lots of holes allowing roots to wander
They are also available in 8 wonderful colors. So, get planting...because orchids are a lovely addition to any living environment and will get you ready for spring and summer.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Shoe of the week: Marc Jacobs 663945 Pump

This is the most beautiful shoe I have ever seen. Thank you Marc Jacobs. I have the perfect black pencil skirt to go with these shoes. Now if I only had $350, too!

I'll be right back

I am attending a conference on Wednesday and Thursday and won't be around to post delightful little quips and links for you lovelies. Sorry about that! You can post comments below if you simply must tell me something.

Maybe I'll get Nicole (aka Ms. A) to guest blog!

Hot date!

Rob and I are taking BART to Berkeley this evening for a big night out with none other than Dan Rather! Ooo la la!

Mr. Rather is speaking to the Commonwealth Club tonight about "What is happening to the American media." He's covered every major election since 1964 and should have some very interesting things to say about our current political situation.

Shopping Challenge: Bridal shower gift

My friend Molly is getting married this summer. Her wedding shower is in Sacramento a few weeks from now. As with anything truly "Molly," there is a garden theme. What should I buy?
What do you think I should get for the blushing bride? Margaret, what are you getting her?

Flower of the week: Nasturtium

This week's flower has been doing quite well with all the rain we've had in the Bay Area. Nasturtiums are growing madly all across Golden Gate Park and in the parking area of my apartment building.

Here is a little history lesson: Nasturtiums are native to Central and South America. According to Alice Fomiga: "The name nasturtium comes from the Latin words for nose (nas), and tortum (twist), referring to a persons's’ reaction upon tasting the spicy, bittersweet leaves." Nasturtiums grew in Thomas Jefferson's garden and were used to combat scurvy. In Victorian times, the nasturtium signified "victory in battle" or "conquest. This plant is edible with the roots used as food in the Andeas, the seeds pickled as capers and the leaves and flowers used in salads.

Things I love today: DIY french manicures

Nothing is more attractive on your nails than a well done french manicure. Especially if you have shorter fingers, like me. But going to the nail salon each week for an hour and forking over $20 doesn't exactly fit into my lifestyle (or budget).

So a few years ago, I taught myself how to do french manicures. It's surprisingly easy. Just pick up a Sally Hansen french manicure kit for $6 at the drug store. You can also buy the polish separately but it is almost always more expensive. Ditch the "sticker guides" and paint on the white tips by hand. It's easier to get the lines straight if you are sitting at a table. A quick coat of an opaque polish and you're set. It literally takes 15 minutes once you get the hang of it.

I've now got Jean, Margaret and Nicole all hooked on DIY french manicures too. I even prefer my own french manicures over those done in the salon. And with all that money you've freed up you can treat yourself to more spa pedicures!

Update: Apparently Jean was the original DIY french manicure guru. Props to Jean.

Update 2: Nicole also was doing her own french manicures way back in the day. I am a moron.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sale Alert: La Redoute

La Redoute (my favorite discount French import catalog) is currently having a sale on skirts. This is just the ticket for restocking your wardrobe for Spring. Check out this perfect dark denim pencil skirt and this pleated silk skirt in blue. While you are there, stock up on henley tees, this white tunic, these wedge sandals and this fun embroidered tote. Don't forget to enter the promo code for free shipping before April 28th.

PS - La Redoute's delivery department is far from perfect. Don't count on their estimates. But the clothes are cheap and good quality, so it is usually worth the inconvenience.

PPS - Be sure to uncheck the box for receiving other catalogs during your order. La Redoute is managed by a company that also sends out some real doozies of catalogs. Just say no to receiving Lane Bryant, Chadwicks and King Size in the mail!

Things I love today: Cargo bronzer

It seems like we'll never see the sun here in San Francisco for more than a few hours. The only thing keeping me from looking like a total zombie is my Cargo bronzer. After foundation, concealer, powder and blush I use a huge brush to sweep on a bit of a bit of the bronzing powder on my face and neck.

The medium tone works perfectly in covering any pale bluish-greenish tones. And it looks like it will last forever. I just have the sample size and a whole winter of San Francisco clouds has barely made a dent in the compact.

Weekend Round-up: Green Acres

After a long and busy week, it was time for a little relaxation last weekend. On Friday, we met up with a friend at Rob's favorite bike bar and grabbed a quick dinner at my favorite hole in the wall, Truly Mediterranean.

Saturday morning we woke up early to drive out to Sanger for a visit with Rob's parents. Rob's dad had made a delicious chicken pot pie in his Dutch oven for lunch. His parent's ranch was in full bloom with carrots, corn, beets, radishes, goat kids, ducks, peacocks and fillies.

Rob's dad has a new interest in survival skills and we watch a few episodes of Survivorman and I Shouldn't Be Alive. I now know how to cook rattlesnake, avoid elephant stampedes and make a debris shelter!

That night we picked up granny at her ranch for a big night of dinner theatre at the Reedley Opera House. It was a perfect, mild valley night heavily scented with orange blossoms from the surrounding orchards. Say what you will about the central valley, but it does have a few lovely moments.

A hike was planned for Sunday morning but the rain left us stuck inside. We replaced the hike with a hearty french toast and bacon breakfast. We left for San Francisco around 1pm and made it home just in time for laundry and other chores.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Tiara watch

My obsession with tiaras rages on. Check out these hair combs from B Jewelry. My current red curly hairstyle would look very dramatic pulled up with a golden rose comb. These combs are part of the "Gilded Prayer" collection that also includes tiaras and something wonderful called a Wysteria Blossom Head Comb.

I know, I know...they are designed for bridalwear. But really, are you going to limit yourself to only being fabulous one day out of your whole life? I didn't think so.

Urban Girl Almanac: A very busy week

Whew! This was a crazy week! It started on Monday with kickball practice in the park. Tuesday was the Earthquake Centennial party. Wednesday was the April Ladies Activity Club party and Thursday was a visit to my alma mater. That's a lot of parties for one little week. Here are the lessons I learned:
  • It would be wise to stretch before kickball practice...I would be well advised to wear a helmet, too.
  • Smoked prosciutto is a great appetizer.
  • Unravel fresh fettuccine from Lucca's Ravioli before boiling to avoid noodle clumps.
  • No party is too small to be a costume party.
  • Dos Pinas has pretty good refried beans and salsa verde.
  • 15 girls, beer, pizza, America's Next Top Model and Cranium makes for a successful LAC party.
  • I <3 Target.
  • Next time you attend a conference, remember to wear a name tag compatible top.
  • The boneless buffalo wings at Applebee's sound terrible but are very tasty.
  • A new formula for city life: (days) - (lack of sleep) + (increased make-up application) x (lattes) = sutstainability.
  • Our kickball team won! My not being present at the game was probably helpful.
  • Never doubt the restorative powers of a really good croissant.
We're off to Sanger this weekend to visit Rob's family farm, catch a play at the community theater and see the most recent crop of baby goats. Have a great weekend!

Things I love today: Target

I miscalculated the amount of time it would take me to arrive yesterday and had a chance to waste some time at Target. There isn't a Target here in San Francisco, so this was a treat! In about 20 minutes, I swept through the store and picked up some great finds. My shopping bag included:
  • This belt
  • Three sets of headbands
  • Two pairs of earrings
  • Sonia Kashuk concealer and powder brushes
  • Watkins Apothecary lotion
  • A workout wrap top
  • Supplies for the Neutrogena Microdermabrasion set
  • Orange and blue cocktail napkins
Go Target! I would have bought much, much more if I had the time and enough trunk space to lug it all home!

Back on campus

Sorry about the break in posting. I drove out to my alma mater yesterday to speak on a panel and receive an award for "alumni excellence." It was great being back on campus and visiting the professors that were so near and dear to me during college. Having a place where people remember you as being "exceptional" and where your name is forever engraved in a little plaque in the hallway is wonderful.

It's also fun to revisit the glory that is campus catering. I don't know about your university experience, but at my college the catering department was truly magical. Delicious tables of food, fancy cheeses, deserts and silver coffee urns would mysteriously appear and disappear at events all across the campus. I wish I had the power to summon food like that in my everyday life! If anything, the food has only gotten better since I graduated!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shopping Challenge: Spring purse

Today's shopping challenge comes from Jean. Considering that I only convinced her to carry a purse regularly a couple years ago, this is a positive development:
I want a new purse. Requirements: Large enough to schlep all my stuff to work, some sort of trend going on, but not too much that it will be utterly useless in a month or two, and under $80. Something like this but in the United States. Ideally with a nice color. Enough that it doesn't look super boring, but not too much that it doesn't match with anything ever.. white, dark turqouise, dark green.. something like that. Readyyyyy.. GO!
Okay! Shopping challenge is on! This is hard because I am not really a great purse shopper myself. Here are my picks for Jean:
  • Bond Street Handbag - From Bluefly for $79.99, this one is a bit plainer than her example but also a little more polished. I'm not sure how long a white purse would survive with Jean, so it's a half hearted recommendation.
  • Kenneth Cole Handbag - For only $26.99 from Overstock, I'm willing to overlook the fact that it may be a bit too small for what Jean needs to carry everyday. Love the green color.
  • Suede Hobo Handbag - At 14" wide, you can definitely carry some stuff in this bag. And at $77, you don't have to worry too much about keeping the suede pristine. Go for either the white or green.
  • Rectangle Handbag - Love it in yellow for $53.99.
  • Woven Bucket Handbag - The brightest green, big enough for a bio textbook and on sale from urban outfitters!
  • Beaded Straw Tote - Not what Jean is looking for, but darling anyway. Pick the olive beading.
  • Woven Hobo Handbag - Only $60 from Shop Intuition. It's nice in white.
  • Mini Hobo Handbag - It's hard to find bags in dark green! This hobo from Nine West is a nice choice. This is also a nice option.
How did we do Jean? Do any of these bags work for you?

To Do: Sign up for Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is scheduled for May 21 this year. Time to brainstorm your craziest costumes for the 12K, cross-city race. The term "race" is used loosely because most participants stroll across the city with beers in hand.

Earthquake centennial party photos!

Last night's earthquake centennial party was so fun! I was amazed at everyone's creative costumes! Jean came as a Red Cross nurse. Trent was a futuristic urban rescue responder. Nicole and Jill teamed up to be a San Francisco "search and rescue" policeman and dog. That's me on the right as a "concussed Victorian" and Rob was dressed as the next big quake complete with a break-off San Francisco peninsula.

The whole evening was "electricity free." It was a bit dark in the living room but bright and cozy around the dining room table candles. I decorated the table in silver and black with loose chandelier crystals to give the effect of a fallen light fixture. A simple dinner of salad, garlic bread and fettuccini was followed by a strawberry jello compote. It wouldn't be a very good earthquake party without jello! After giving out the costume prizes (a first aid kit and cans of spam) we took the rickshaw for a moonlit spin and called it a night.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Shoe of the week: Linea Paolo Lourdes Pump

It's finally stopped raining! (well at least for a few days) Eventually San Francisco may dry out enough to wear spring clothes. I have a closet full of cute pleated skirts, pastels, green and white stripes and the perfect pair of white jeans (thank you Club Monaco) that need to see the light of day.

What to wear with all this prep? The perfect white pump of course. I admit that I am hesitant about the "granny nature" of white pumps, but this pair from Linea Paolo could do the trick. The shape is lovely, it has a nice peep toe and the studs keep it from being too cliche. The shoe is cuter modeled on an actual foot. Now all I have to do is tan my legs up a few shades so they won't match the white perfectly. Toss in a thick white headband and I'll be ready to go!

Things I love today: Lucca's Ravioli

Okay, okay...I know this is becoming a little repetitive. But I can't help it. I love Lucca's Ravioli. I just ran over there to pick up supplies for tonights dinner. Took a number and waited for an Italian man in a paper hat to take my order.

The bounty? Fresh spinach fettucini, homemade tomato sauce, homemade Italian sausage, smoked prosciutto, locally made provolone and a huge slice of foccacia pizza with mushrooms. I'm drooling just at the thought of all that goodness wrapped up in tidy butcher paper bundles in the fridge. Don't even get me started on the ravioli that comes packaged in perfect little boxes. I literally may never cook for a dinner party again.

1906 Earthquake Centennial

The 1906 Earthquake Centennial officially kicked off with a pre-dawn memorial service this morning at Lotta's Fountain on Market Street. Loved seeing those sassy centegenerians on TV! I didn't hear the bells and sirens at 5 am today. Not sure if I slept through it or if the bells didn't go off in my neighborhood. I slept surprisingly well last night after being exposed to countless scary earthquake stories and future forecasts.

Everything is set for tonight's party. I polished the silver, wrapped up the costume prizes and set the table last night. I won't ruin the surprises but I will tell you that the whole house is going to be candlelit for the event. Now all that is left to do is to run over to Lucca's Ravioli to buy some pasta supplies for dinner!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sale Alert: Oriental lamps

Visit for some amazing deals on porcelain lamps. These designs are a perfect compliment to the Dorothy Draper inspired "anti-minimalist" interior designs so popular right now. I especially like this azure lamp, this dramatic (almost goth) black and white lamp, and this yellow lamp.

Trends I don't get: Garden totes

Kate Spade has come out with a green and pink garden tote for spring. I admit, it's cute. But is it any cuter than an actual garden tote? And is it possibly worth $245? When I first saw it, I sort of blew it off as another example of Spade's homage to prep. But then, I ran across this python and linen tote for $495 from J.Crew. This one is just plain weird. Even more odd is the $485 Burberry garden tote that is actually supposed to be used for gardening.

For $60 you can get an actual garden tote, embroidered with your initials and with tools from Red Envelope. Admittedly, it is not adorable. This $40 version is closer. Or for about $30 you could get a bright canvas bag from Land's End.

What's next? The Kate Spade bucket for $300 or perhaps a Prada tool belt?

Earthquake centennial events

I wasn't planning on getting up before dawn tomorrow to attend the earthquake memorial at Lotta's Fountain. After all, I have a party to throw later that night. But now that Mayor Newsom has ordered city-wide bells and sirens at 5:12 am I might as well get up. I live right across from a fire station and the sleep situation is rather hopeless. I just have to convince Rob (and maybe Jean and Trent) to go with me.

Weekend Round-up: Restaurant bonanza!

With my parents in town for Easter and lots of rain, there was little left to do this weekend but eat out in restaurants. A lot of excellent restaurants! Here's the round-up.

On Friday, we all met at the Stanyan Park Hotel (highly recommended for visiting parents) and took the train to Parnassus to eat at P.J.'s Oyster Bed. Massive consumption of all things exoskeleton. On Saturday morning we walked to the de Young in the misty rain. A lovely breakfast in the cafe, they really do make one of the best lattes in the city, before walking through all but two of the exhibits.

My brother Joe came in from Sacramento and we all met back at the hotel before driving to the Park Chalet on the coast. We shared a huge feast of bloody marys, ahi tartar, Mediterranean pizza, grilled asparagus, steak skewers, macaroni and cheese with black truffles and shoe string onions. So delicious! Back home to nap off all those calories before having a light dinner of a green salad, brie, sourdough bread and a fruit plate at my apartment.

Sunday morning started with a visit to the always lovely Conservatory of Flowers. After which we headed to 16th and Sanchez for a wonderful Easter brunch at Tangerine. I wore my best metallic pink ankle-strap pumps, vintage tweed pencil skirt and pink cashmere sweater with chrysanthemum appliques. My coconut pancakes were to die for and even better when paired with a side of maple and clove smoked bacon. My parents headed home and Rob and crashed out back at the apartment. I think I gained at least five pounds in the last two days!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Spring Chicken

Look at this darling baby! Rob's nephew, Isaiah, is the embodiment of springtime. He's the combination of Peeps, chicks, chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs. Just look at that smile...that's contagious! Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Things I love today: Vintage Silk Scarves

The Ribbonerie has struck again! Turns out that there is a huge back room full of antiques, embroidered linens, hats and scarves. Heaven! Jean and I both picked up floral scarves (perfect for Easter) for only $15 each. Mine is a simple cream background with red dahlias and green ferns. This camera phone picture doesn't do it justice!

It's about time! Congrats to Liz!

One of my good friends has gotten engaged! My inner circle of friends is a group of girls I've known since junior high. We're all sort of "late bloomers." My baby sister has been a bridesmaid a couple times already and I have never had one of my friends get married! Now that Liz has broken the seal, I wonder who will be the next to go...

Urban Girl Almanac

With Rob sick on Monday and Tuesday and me sick on Thursday it's been a pretty quiet week. There have still been plenty of lessons learned, however. Here is the Urban Girl Almanac for April 10-14:
  • Waiting in line at Safeway is worth it when you are getting OJ and treats for a sick boyfriend at home.
  • Always, always, carry an umbrella if there is even the slightest chance of rain. Otherwise, you'll end up soaking wet from walking 10 blocks to yoga.
  • Confirm that it is the right route before getting on the bus.
  • Victorians were pretty fabulous.
  • Easter is a great time to get super girlie.
  • The world's premier ribbon source (The Ribbonerie) is just around the corner from my office. Massive credit card debt to follow shortly.
  • If you were to pick on TV show to model your life after, pick The Cosby Show.
  • Don't forget to close out your tab and retrieve your credit card after a night at the Fish Bowl.
  • Try not to be annoyed at the fact that your neighbor upstairs stays home all day loudly rolling across her hardwood floors in a chair.
  • Hand washing silk scarves in the bathroom sink can make you feel delightfully French.
  • Bright red hair? Why not? You are only 26 once.
  • Driving a stick shift convertible in San Francisco is often annoying buy sometimes helps you feel truly bad ass.
  • Niman Ranch pork chops are delish!
Here's hoping for a little sun this weekend and an eventual end of the dreadful weather in San Francisco. Have a great Easter!

Crafty: Easter baskets

I am starting to get excited for this Easter weekend. My parents are coming up to San Francisco and we have a few days of museums and restaurants planned. This is a camera phone picture of an Easter basket I finished last night. The French silk ribbon from The Ribbonerie is too cute!

Plus, it has stopped raining temporarily and I finally had a chance to get my hair cut and colored. It's now a very bright red with copper highlights. Over the top for sure! I feel so much better! No more hiding my roots under silk scarves. Happy spring to you!

PS: If you live in the Bay Area and have fine, curly hair you need to go see Nikki at G-Squared. She gets it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Things I love today: The Cosby Show

I'm home sick with a cold today...Nothing to do but sleep, eat soup and watch reruns on TV. Isn't The Cosby Show wonderful! My only wish is that my future family will turn out half as cool as the Cosby's. Sure, that means I'll need to have 5 kids. But I came from a family of 6 kids and was recently mildly obsessed with this family. It's feasible!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Flower of the week: Grape hyacinth

For me, no bulb says "spring" as much as the grape hyacinth. Tulips are nice. Daffodils are perky. But grape hyacinth is my favorite. The blossoms as so dainty and they have a lovely, delicate smell.

Here are some facts about the grape hyacinth: This bulb is party of the lily family and the asparagales order. It is native to Greece and the Middle East and is currently grown in the White House Rose Garden. In Victorian flower symbolism, the hyacinth represented "games and play." Grape hyacinths are edible and not surprisingly have a bitter, grape taste.

Things I love today: The perfect shoe

Behold the perfect shoe! It's plain, but perfect in every way. If this shoe were ice cream it would be Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean. The simplicity of this pair of peep toes makes all others look absurd...Especially these and 85% of Anthropologie's shoe collection.

Earthquake centennial party update

The more I plan for the earthquake centennial party, the more I love the idea.

Sometimes the most festive parties are centered around depressing events. For example, the Sore Losers Inaugural Ball Rob and I threw after the 2004 election. Now that was a great party!

Anyway, two updates for the earthquake centennial party. There is a now a costume contest aspect. The guest with the best earthquake, 1906, Victorian or disaster preparedness related ensemble wins a big prize. Also, the Chronicle has just published a few items from the "Refugees' Cookbook" featuring patroness recipes from after the 1906 quake. Sort of a Junior League cookbook for the national disaster crowd. If you are interested in planning your own centennial party, it would be easy to whip up the authentic shrimp salad and Italian spaghetti recipes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Research project: Victorian jewelry

Since all of San Francisco has gone nuts for 1906 right now, one might guess that Victorian themes might be making a comeback soon.* In fact, Victorian themes already hit the runways.

Turns out that Victorian fashion was more than just bizarre jewelry made out of hair and tiger claws. The Victorians loved symbolism, so you often see pieces featuring snakes (fertility), horseshoes (luck), griffins (courage) and moons (masculinity). A lot of the pieces are surprisingly modern, for example this gold bangle or this garnet bangle.

Sometimes odd, usually detailed and often over the top, Victorian jewelry can work as a great "statement piece" when combined with modern fashions. You can drool over more Victorian styles here and here.

*Disclaimer: I know that 1906 isn't technically Victorian since that ended in 1901. We are not exactly fashion forward out here on the west coast, so it is safe to say that Victorian styles still ruled.

Shopping challenge: Easter gifts

Easter is one of those perfect holidays where a tiny gift or a handmade card is received with unexpected joy. People don't demand much out of Easter beyond Peeps and Cream Eggs, so these little treats are a big plus. Here are some of my favorite Easter gift ideas:

To Do: Host an earthquake centennial party

The 1906 Earthquake Centennial is a big deal in San Francisco. Along with photo exhibits at the Legion of Honor, an exhibition downtown, daily news coverage and television specials, there are hundreds of events planned for the next two weeks.

Instead of getting completely creeped out and spending the evening hoarding canned goods at Safeway, it would be better to ring in the centennial with some city friends a lot of wine! (For the record, we already have emergency supplies of water, food, radios, etc) I think I'll plan a dinner party for April 18th.

But what should I serve? Perhaps, copy the St. Francis breakfast:
The menu included scrambled eggs, stewed rhubarb, oatmeal, biscuits, bacon and coffee -- the same menu that has been served every April 18 since.
Maybe not. I'll probably go with a basic dinner. Pasta from Lucca's? Of course, a Jello or aspic is a must! And I should probably some turn-of-the-century staples like gin fizz and bombay pudding. Any ideas?

Book report

I am currently about halfway through "How to be Good" by Nick Hornby. It's very interesting so far. All about relationships, expectations and the struggle to be a moral person. As soon as you think you have the plot figured out, it changes direction.

Overall, a great bus book. Intellectual but not so complicated that you can't follow the story when reading in short bites.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Things I love today: Peep toes

Ah Delias...When I was fifteen, I didn't know that you existed (did you exist?) and probably wouldn't have bought things from you even if I did. I was a fashionista of a different, extremely misguided, sort back then.

About 10 years later, the direct marketing gods have pegged me as a teenager and have started sending your catalog. A catalog full of cute things for teenagers and the occasional grown-up find. Such as these purple peep-toe wedges (also available in nautical) and these woven straw bangles. If fancy interior designers can shop at PB Teen, I can shop at Delias...right?

Sale Alert: Pier 1 table linens

Pier 1 is having an online sale on some of their basic table linens. Check out the Chambray collection in blues or reds. Perfect for filling out your linen closet.

Also, these ramekins, this odd but nice bunny and this collection of stemless stemware are all on sale.

Weekend Round-up: A bicycle built for two

Despite the on-again off-again weather, this turned out to be a lovely weekend! Friday night was a literal "wash" when it started pouring right at 5:30. Rob and I headed straight home for dinner and a movie.

Saturday morning's weather was much better. After a breakfast at the Flower Market Cafe, we picked up our new rug and ran a bunch of errands. With Rob determined to buy a new bicycle, we stopped at Valencia Cyclery. The tandem bike was still on sale and we took a very harry test drive (imagine trying to navigate the potholes and Boogaloo brunch crowds of Valencia Street on a tandem bike!) before deciding to buy it. For the record, I barely know how to ride a bike!

Later that afternoon, we went to visit the Macy's Flower Show and did a bit of shopping downtown. We tried to go shopping for dinner at home but Safeway was extremely crowded. Instead, we went for dinner at La Mediterranee on Noe St. Delicious!

Up bright and early Sunday morning for our first tandem bike ride. Rob is always good about motivating me to do things I don't want to do, so for this trip he picked up the Sunday Times and promised breakfast at the de Young cafe. This bicycle trip went much, much better than the heart-attack inducing Valencia test. The park was full of even more blossoms than last week! Back home to wait out a quick rain before taking the bus to Crissy Field and Sports Basement. An early dinner with Jean and Trent Sunday night before crashing out.

Don't I sound so sporty!? Ha! Although I am largely anti-bike, I will admit that riding the tandem with Rob was a lot of fun. Having a boyfriend who is your total opposite often leads to unexpectedly entertaining adventures! How was your weekend?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Wanted: Cropped jacket

This red cropped jacket is only available at Topshop in the UK. I would love to have one exactly like it out here in California. Does anyone have any ideas for comparable jackets in the US? The only options I have found so far are way out of my price range or not as cute. Help!

Shopping challenge: Perfect throw pillows?

After coveting the color palate at a Paris hotel, I embarked on a fruitless search for the perfect raspberry colored throw pillows. It appears that the search is over!

These velvet pillows from Crate and Barrel in "Brick" seem to be the perfect not-too-girly hue. At 20 inches square, they do seem kind of huge however. Time to go downtown and see for myself!

Things I love today: Fish tank bonsai

Rob and I love our fishy-friends. We currently have two oranda red cap goldfish. We named them the "beanie brothers" for their red hats. These two extremely spoiled fish share a brand new 20 gallon tank in our dining room.

Just today, we discovered adorable fish tank bonsai trees to add to their habitat. The trees will look fabulous in combination with the blue porcelain pieces we brought back from our trip to China and the rock stacks Rob put together last week.

Urban Girl Almanac

A bit of bar hopping, a four hour work-out, an expensive dress; it has been another San Francisco week for the record books. Here are the lessons I learned this week:
  • A few days of sun makes a world of difference. The city is so much nicer when it is not raining!
  • When a new dress hanging up in your closet makes you smile by just looking at it, it was probably a smart purchase.
  • Cheap Chinese take-out is lovely for a Monday night.
  • A four hour workout involving yoga, rock climbing and cardio may seem like a good idea...but really, it is overkill. The resulting soreness will make you consider canceling your gym membership immediately.
  • Lucca's Ravioli alone is a great reason to live in San Francisco.
  • The Stanyan Park Hotel and Inn 1890 are two good hotel options in my neighborhood for visiting parents.
  • Sunglasses! Remember those things?
  • Always accept invitations. Even when you really don't want to go out.
  • I want to move in to the Macy's downtown now that it is decorated for the Flower Show.
  • Wear flat shoes when you go to three bars in one night.
  • Getting a new camera phone is a good thing.
  • Reading the New Yorker on the bus may cause you to miss your stop by about five blocks.
Rob and I don't have any plans for the weekend at this point. I want to visit Macy's downtown and maybe try this Greek restaurant. Opa! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Did you know: St. Francis secret

One sadness about living in San Francisco is that I don't get to come visit San Francisco and stay at the St. Francis. Although, I do suppose I get to go and have drinks there whenever I please. It is a decent trade-off.

I just learned today that the St. Francis has run a money-cleaning operation since 1938:
This custom began when the hotel’s manager insisted that the silver coins – the currency of the day – be cleaned to keep the ladies’ white gloves from getting dirty.
I love it! Luxuriously clean currency brought to the city of San Francisco by the St. Francis hotel. Now that's service!